Video Premiere: Liza Stepanova Performs Reinaldo Moya’s “Rain Outside of the Church”

Today’s video by visual artist Kevork Mourad features pianist Liza Stepanova’s performance of Reinaldo Moya’s “Rain Outside of the Church” from her forthcoming album E Pluribus Unum.

The album showcases nine American composers with immigrant backgrounds, including Moya, Lera Auerbach, Anna Clyne, Gabriela Lena Frank, Kamran Ince, Pablo Ortiz, and world premiere recordings of music by Chaya Czernowin, Badie Khaleghian, and Eun Young Lee.

Here’s what Liza had to say about “Rain Outside of the Church:”

An important part of E Pluribus Unum is my collaboration with Syrian-American visual artist Kevork Mourad. Mourad’s video, featuring a live performance of Reinaldo Moya’s “Rain Outside the Church,” from The Way North, conveys the message of gaining voice and refuge through art. Moya writes, “The Way North depicts the journey of a Central American migrant through Mexico and his eventual arrival in the United States. The work consists of a series of short vignettes that capture the emotional, physical, and psychological struggles of the unnamed narrator as he makes his way north in search of a better life. “Rain Outside the Church” refers to a quiet stop at a sanctuary church.

E Pluribus Unum is out on Navona Records on August 28, 2020, but you can pre-order the album here.

About Liza Stepanova

Praised by The New York Times for her “thoughtful musicality” and “fleet-fingered panache,” Liza Stepanova has performed at the Berlin Philharmonie, the Weill and Zankel recital halls at Carnegie Hall; Alice Tully, Merkin, David Geffen, and Steinway halls in New York City and at the Kennedy Center. She has appeared as a soloist with conductors James DePreist and Nicholas McGegan and live on WQXR New York, WFMT Chicago, and WETA Washington. Stepanova’s debut solo album Tones & Colors: Music and Visual Art (CAG Records, 2018), recorded with Grammy-winning producer Adam Abeshouse, was featured on NPR’s Performance Today, in the BBC Music Magazine, and in recital at National Sawdust. Her most recent project E Pluribus Unum (Navona Records, 2020) features piano music by contemporary immigrant composers including multiple world premieres.

Despite COVID restrictions, Stepanova is grateful for the ability to participate in several creative projects in the summer of 2020. She was featured in virtual concerts with the Bowdoin Music Festival and Lyra Music. For the SongFest festival, she single-handedly directed and edited a two-hour presentation about composers banned by the Nazi regime featuring interviews with conductor James Conlon and expert musicologists. Earlier 2019-2020 performance highlights include invitations to the Prague Piano, Cooperstown, and Crescent City Music Festivals, solo recitals at USF Steinway Piano Series and East Carolina University Piano Series, and chamber music tours with the Lysander Piano Trio, winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition, in Canada, Mexico, and across the US. An advocate for new music, Stepanova has premiered works by Jennifer Higdon and Libby Larsen, and is scheduled to premiere a new work by Lowell Liebermann this season. She has worked with both established and up-and-coming composers including many of those included in E Pluribus Unum as well as William Bolcom, John Harbison, and others. Stepanova is one of the founders of the Chamber Music Athens festival in Georgia and, for two years, was Associate Artistic Director at SongFest at The Colburn School in Los Angeles. She holds degrees from the “Hanns Eisler” Academy in Berlin, Germany and The Juilliard School where she studied with Joseph Kalichstein, Seymour Lipkin, Jerome Lowenthal, and George Sava. Following teaching positions at Juilliard and Smith College, Stepanova is currently an associate professor of piano at the University of Georgia.

About Reinaldo Moya

Reynaldo Moya is a graduate of Venezuela’s El Sistema music education system.  He holds degrees from The Juilliard School. His music has been performed throughout the US and the world by notable orchestras, ensembles and performers. His opera Memory Boy, with a libretto by Mark Campbell, was commissioned by the Minnesota Opera for its Project Opera and premiered in February of 2016. He was the Composer-Residence at The Schubert Club in Minnesota from 2017-19.  Reinaldo Moya is the recipient of the 2019 Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2015 McKnight Composers Fellowship, the Van Lier Fellowship from Meet the Composer and the Aaron Copland Award from the Copland House. In 2020 he was announced as the winner of the inaugural recipient of the Ellis-Beauregard Foundation Composer Award. Moya is Assistant Professor of Composition at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

About Kevork Mourad

Born in Qamishli, Syria, Kevork Mourad now lives and works in New York City. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the Yerevan Institute of Fine Arts in Armenia. Mourad employs his technique of live drawing and animation in concert with musicians – developing a collaboration in which art and music harmonize with one another. Collaborators include Yo-Yo Ma, Kim Kashkashian, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Brooklyn Rider, The Knights, Perspectives Ensemble, Paola Prestini, and Kinan Azmeh and he has performed in many institutions, including The Aga Khan Museum (Toronto), The Art Institute of Chicago, The American Museum of Natural History, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Bronx Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, ElbPhilharmonie (Germany), Rhode Island School of Design, Nara Museum (Japan), Lincoln Center Atrium, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Walt Disney Concert Hall. Mourad has been a resident teaching artist at Brandeis University, Harvard University, and Holy Cross (Worcester). He is the only visual artist member in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and is featured in the film “Music of Strangers” (2016).

Recent commissions include Israel in Egypt, for the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Sound of Stone to accompany the exhibition “Armenia!” for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Well Wish Ya, a dance performance piece with the OYO Dance Troupe in Namibia. His performance Home Within, co-produced with clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, has toured the world. The 2016 recipient of the Robert Bosch Stiftung Film Prize, he premiered his animated film, 4 Acts for Syria, at the Stuttgart Animation Festival. In 2019 he had a solo exhibit at Tabari Artspace in Dubai. In September 2019, he exhibited at Latitude, in Yerevan, Armenia, alongside Imran Qureshi, Roberto Pugliese, and Walid Siti. That year he was also commissioned by the Aga Khan Foundation to create a site-specific 20-foot drawing-sculpture called Seeing Through Babel, at London’s Ismaili Center, addressing the importance of diversity in our contemporary times. The piece will be exhibited in October 2020 at the Asia Society Triennial in New York. His works are in the permanent collection of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris.